Campaigners have hailed a report showing the global movement to get institutions to ditch investments in oil, coal and gas has doubled in size since 2015.
The report was released shortly after two leading UK barristers, including pensions expert Keith Bryant QC, issued a legal opinion confirming pension fund trustees who fail to consider climate risk could be exposing themselves to legal challenge.
Alice Garton, a senior corporate lawyer with Client Earth, said: “This opinion clarifies beyond doubt that pension fund trustees are legally required to take climate risk into account where it could present financial risks to the fund’s investments. There is now abundant evidence to demonstrate climate change presents major financial risks to investors as the world transitions to a low-carbon future in line with the Paris Agreement.”
Julia Hilton, from Divest East Sussex, said: “Investments in fossil fuels are not only damaging the balance of the earth’s climate, but also pose a serious financial risk to investors. This explains why 685 institutions in 76 countries, managing assets worth more than $5 trillion, have now made some form of commitment to divest.
“The East Sussex Pension Fund should stop pretending it can influence fossil fuel companies by retaining its investments in them. We urge all members to visit tinyurl.com/divesteastsussex and make their voices heard in support of divestment.”
A spokesman for the East Sussex Pension Fund said: “Money from the fund is invested in areas which generate the best return with consideration for the level of risk every investment poses. Divesting of assets in the energy sector would mean the fund’s ability to influence the direction of individual companies and the national and international energy sector would be severely curtailed.
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